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What's the best way to learn Spanish on your own?

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Dear Mexican: I've tried and failed to learn the Spanish language for the last two years. During high school and college, I took both Spanish I and Spanish II, but nothing really stuck with me. Last year, I visited a Spanish-speaking church to help immerse myself in the language, but only understood about 10 percent of the message. Also, I tried to watch the available Spanish channels at home, but 90 percent of the programs don't appeal to me (although I do enjoy the luchadores). Also, I'm terribly introverted and don't have any bilingual friends. It's unfathomable to me to approach someone and say, "I'm looking to learn the language. Can you help me out?"

I live and work in an environment where the need to speak Spanish is nearly non-existent. I'm thinking about signing up for another college-level course, but without finding an anchor to the culture, I'm afraid of failure again. To help, I enjoy comic books, crime fiction/movies, sci-fi and literary short stories. Please help me cross over the language wall and into the freedom of being bilingual.

Altruistic Alabaman

Info

Gustavo Arellano

Dear Gabacho: Primeramente, good for you for not being afraid of Spanish like your gabacho neighbors — you're like the último of the Mohicans with your raza over there in Alabama! Acquiring a new language is never easy, especially when you're an adult, so the Mexican's suggestion is to not give up on your path. Continue to immerse yourself — television (I know Univisión is really just a looping minstrel show, but their news operation is top-notch), church, books and the like. Better yet, why don't you connect with one of the many immigrant-rights groups in the Cotton State fighting the good fight against the state's reprehensible anti-Mexican laws? Not only will they be more than happy to teach you español, but you'll be doing the Lord's work and most likely end up with a cute Chicana activist who'll take your bilingualism to a whole other level. Enjoy!

Dear Mexican: How is the singer Taco like a taco? If Taco were a taco, what kind of taco would Taco be? When I listen to Taco's "Puttin' on the Ritz" and it gets stuck in my head, it's like when I eat carne asada tacos and it gets stuck between my teeth, insofar as it starts out awesome and ends up annoying.

Nom Nom Nom de Plume

Dear Gabacha: "Taco" is Taco's first name — Taco Ockerse, the 1980s one-hit wonder who went by Taco as his stage name. Not being fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, I can't tell you what that taco means, but the taco you taco taco taco taco. Taco? Taco! ¡A LA CHINGADA CON ARPAYASO!

Preorder Taco USA! Gentle cabrones, my much-promised Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America will finally hit bookstores April 10, but that doesn't mean you can't already order it (yes, grammar snobs: I just used a double negative, but Mexican Spanish loves double negatives the way we do cute second cousins). Place your order with your favorite local bookstore, your finer online retailers, your craftier piratas, but place it: My libro editor has already promised to deport me from the publishing industry if we don't sell enough copies! And stay tuned for book signing info!

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